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Sos T.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association
Biharean Biologist | Year: 2012

It is generally considered that terrestrial chelonians often cope surprisingly well with carapace trauma and it is common to encounter animals with chronic healed shell deformities resulting from previous traumatic episodes. Terrestrial chelonians may incur traumatic shell injuries as a result of being run over by cars or lawnmowers, burned as consequence of wrong pasture management, or gnawed by predators, or they may merely have suffered a significant fall. Here I present the description of two extreme cases of regeneration in Testudo graeca ibera in nature. In one case the tortoise survived an injury that covered more than 50 % of the carapace. The possible causes of injuries are also listed. © Biharean Biologist, Oradea, Romania, 2012.

Pap P.L.,Babes - Bolyai University | Pap P.L.,Debrecen University | Osvath G.,Babes - Bolyai University | Aparicio J.M.,Grupo de Investigacion de la Biodiversidad Genetica y Cultural | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Sexual selection and aerodynamic forces affecting structural properties of the flight feathers of birds are poorly understood. Here, we compared the structural features of the innermost primary wing feather (P1) and the sexually dimorphic outermost (Ta6) and monomorphic second outermost (Ta5) tail feathers of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) from a Romanian population to investigate how sexual selection and resistance to aerodynamic forces affect structural differences among these feathers. Furthermore, we compared structural properties of Ta6 of barn swallows from six European populations. Finally, we determined the relationship between feather growth bars width (GBW) and the structural properties of tail feathers. The structure of P1 indicates strong resistance against aerodynamic forces, while the narrow rachis, low vane density and low bending stiffness of tail feathers suggest reduced resistance against airflow. The highly elongated Ta6 is characterized by structural modifications such as large rachis width and increased barbule density in relation to the less elongated Ta5, which can be explained by increased length and/or high aerodynamic forces acting at the leading tail edge. However, these changes in Ta6 structure do not allow for full compensation of elongation, as reflected by the reduced bending stiffness of Ta6. Ta6 elongation in males resulted in feathers with reduced resistance, as shown by the low barb density and reduced bending stiffness compared to females. The inconsistency in sexual dimorphism and in change in quality traits of Ta6 among six European populations shows that multiple factors may contribute to shaping population differences. In general, the difference in quality traits between tail feathers cannot be explained by the GBW of feathers. Our results show that the material and structural properties of wing and tail feathers of barn swallows change as a result of aerodynamic forces and sexual selection, although the result of these changes can be contrasting. © 2015 Pap et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Vincze O.,Babes - Bolyai University | Vincze O.,Debrecen University | Vagasi C.I.,Babes - Bolyai University | Vagasi C.I.,Debrecen University | And 4 more authors.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2013

Defence mechanisms against parasites and pathogens are some of the most elaborate biological systems in animals. The oily secretion of the avian uropygial gland has been suggested to serve as a chemical defence against feather and eggshell bacteria. Yet, the traits associated with uropygial gland oil production are not well understood. We conducted a phylogenetic analysis comprising 132 European bird species aiming to test: (1) whether life-history and ecological traits drive gland size evolution by potentially promoting microbial infestation and (2) how these traits affects change in the gland size throughout the annual cycle. We show that the size of the uropygial gland is dynamic (i.e. increasing from the nonbreeding to the breeding season, independent of sex). Furthermore, we found that the year-round size of the gland was similar between sexes and was correlated with different ecological and life-history traits promoting microbial infection throughout the annual cycle. During the breeding season, the total eggshell surface area in a clutch correlated significantly and positively with the gland size, suggesting the importance of oil in protecting eggs from microbes. Social species exhibited a larger gland size increase during the breeding season compared to nonsocials; a change that was also predicted by the total eggshell surface area. Aquatic, riparian and non-migratory species had larger glands than terrestrials and migrants, respectively. The findings of the present study suggest that aquatic environments may promote the production of gland oil, through either the need of waterproofing the plumage and/or defending it against the intensified feather degradation in these moist conditions. Finally, we found a negative effect of the incubation period on uropygial gland size, which may suggest an energetic constraint imposed by other development-connected costly activities. Our results show that the role of the uropygial gland dynamically varies during the annual cycle, potentially in response to seasonal variation in parasitic infection risk. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London.

Salek M.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Spassov N.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | Andera M.,National Museum | Enzinger K.,Austrian League of Nature Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Acta Theriologica | Year: 2013

The steppe polecat Mustela eversmanii is a medium-sized mustelid species whose European population has significantly declined over the past century. However, due to the lack of systematic surveys, little is known about its status and distribution. In this paper, we review the current distribution, habitat associations, and population trends of steppe polecats in Europe and assess the main factors associated with these trends. Our results reveal ongoing population declines in most of the studied countries, which led to fragmentation and local population extinctions at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The species was assessed as rapidly declining in Austria, Czech Republic, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine; declining in Bulgaria; and stable in Hungary. Due to insufficient data, its status was not evaluated for Romania, Poland, and Serbia. M. eversmanii naturally occurs in steppe habitats, but recently seems to have adopted open agricultural landscapes consisting of a mosaic of grasslands, small fields with hedges, and dry embankments. Its distribution often coincides with populations of ground squirrels and hamsters. However, in intensively used agricultural landscapes, smaller rodents (especially voles) could also be an important dietary component. Intensive agricultural production, habitat loss, the degradation of steppe and grassland habitats, and significant declines in the availability of its main prey are the crucial factors for the species' current population decline. Further research is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our knowledge of its distribution, population densities, feeding ecology, habitat associations, and population genetics. This would enable first steps towards its effective conservation and management strategies. © 2013 Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland.

Nowak C.,Senckenberg Institute | Domokos C.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Dutsov A.,Balkani Wildlife Society | Frosch C.,Senckenberg Institute
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2014

We tested the hypothesis that brown bears were translocated from the Romanian Carpathians to Bulgaria via air transportation during the communist regime in the 1970s and 1980s. Microsatellite analysis was performed on 199 bear samples from Bulgaria and Romania. Assignment and admixture tests revealed the existence of seven genotypes (=2.8 %) in Bulgaria that were assigned with high probabilities to the Romanian population, supporting the translocation and successful establishment of Carpathian bears in Bulgaria. While we cannot rule out the possibility that active long-distance dispersal contributed to the observed pattern, the spatial distribution and sex ratio of the detected Romanian genotypes strongly favor the translocation hypothesis. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

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